Bad Sugar

I answered exactly one half of the healthy equity quiz questions correctly. From previous classes I have been made aware of the poor health ranking of the United States in comparison to other countries around the world. I had been taught that the health of nation does not just depend on weather or not a country has the best or most advanced technology, but it also depends on economic, social and political factors. Although I was aware of this general trend, I was still very shocked by the specific statistics and struggled with answering the questions correctly.

The unnatural causes film “Bad Sugar” focused in on a native tribes in the western United States and took a deeper look into their unusually high rates of diabetes. These rates have climbed to be seven times the normal rate. For a long time, the way of life for these people (hunting wild game/living off the land) kept them healthy, but over time, this way of life has changed.

Scientists are working hard to uncover the reason for this occurance and have looked into genes to find the answer for these unusually high rates of diabetes in these individuals. However, they are struggling to find any common trend underlying all similar circumstances. Other professionals decided to look into social factors to explain this phenomenon. It is not simply poor diet that leads to type two diabetes, but also stress caused by poverty that can lead to diabetes.

When these people were stripped of their land and their native cultural practices and forced to a western lifestyle, their way of life shifted entirely. No longer were they living their normal healthy lifestyles, but now they are forced into a new high stress environment. It is the new social and economic situation of these people that is causing such a high incidence of diabetes, and it cannot be pawned off on something as simple as diet and exercise.

Through this exercise I have seen that the spread and treatment of illness is so much deeper and more complex than a simple cause and effect relationship. It combines all aspects of ones life, from culture to environment to economic status, and this is what truly determines ones health. It seems terribly unfair that ones health is almost predetermined the moment they are born. We are ascribed with a social and economic status, along with genes. Our environment, culture and biology are the three most contributing factors determining our health and unfortunately there is not too much that can be done. However, our individual choices, including diet, exercise and health habits, can sometimes help to sway the outcomes of ones overall health. Although an African American man may be more susceptible to diabetes due to his social status, his culture and his genes, by making smart lifestyle choices (not smoking, healthy diet and exercise), he can reduce his risks of developing diabetes.

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